- Walk the historic streets of Antigua
- Browse Indigenous markets in the highlands
- Go hiking and kayaking around Lake Atitlán
- Travel down the Río Dulce and tour the ruins at Tikal
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua
|Antigua Market Visit, Guatemalan Cooking Class
|Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour
|Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán
|Day Trip to Chichicastenango Market
|Comalapa Art Tour, Transfer to Guatemala City
|Transfer to Río Dulce, Finca Paraíso Hot Springs
|Río Dulce Boat Tour
|Free Day in Livingston
|Transfer to Flores, Boat Tour
|Explore Tikal National Park
|Fly to Guatemala City, Optional Activities
|Guatemala City Tour
|Depart Guatemala City
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to AntiguaWelcome to Guatemala! Not only does this Central American country boast endless natural beauty, but its rich history also spans the ages, from Spanish colonialism all the way back to the days of the ancient Maya. You'll see this living history and experience Guatemala's rich culture over two weeks that will take you throughout the country.
Day 2: Antigua Market Visit, Guatemalan Cooking ClassHead out this morning to discover authentic Guatemalan culture at the local municipal market. Located a 10-minute walk from the main plaza, the Mercado Central is a must-visit highlight of any trip to Antigua. It's where locals come to shop for everything from fresh produce to clothing to housewares. On a two-hour visit, you'll see what the food vendors are cooking and can browse for souvenirs. There's a wide array of handicrafts and handmade items that include wooden masks, textiles, jewelry, and more. Thursdays and Saturdays are the best time to come, as this is when the vendors receive new products.
Day 3: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village TourSet off this morning for the three-hour drive to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala's most famous lake. This body of water is part of a volcanic crater in the southwestern highlands and is surrounded by volcanoes, creating a spectacular skyline. The drive to get there is a treat in itself, as it follows a section of the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from one end of the Americas to the other (Alaska to Argentina). Along this road are stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake AtitlánAfter breakfast, you'll meet your guide for today's five-hour expedition on and around Lake Atitlán. Start in a kayak as you paddle westward along the north shore of the lake for roughly two hours. Pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or even do some cliff jumping.
Eventually, you'll arrive on the shore between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave the kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots. Follow the trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours until the circuit leads you back to Jaibalito.
Day 5: Day Trip to Chichicastenango MarketIn the morning, you'll hop in a vehicle for the ride north to Chichicastenango, which locals call "Chichi." This Indigenous town in the Guatemalan highlands is home to the largest and most famous public market in all of Central America. Held every Thursday and Sunday, it draws locals from surrounding villages who come to sell handicrafts, textiles, regional clothing, and fresh produce. Upon arrival, you and your guide will spend time browsing the market and chatting with locals.
Also here is the Iglesia de Santo Tomás. This 16th-century Roman Catholic church is built on the site of a former Maya temple and is a striking example of Guatemalan syncretism (a mix of ancient Maya religious beliefs and traditional Catholicism). During the trip, you'll also sample typical foods such as the sweet snack pan de muerto (bread of the dead). Afterward, you'll get in the car for the ride back to Atitlán.
Day 6: Comalapa Art Tour, Transfer to Guatemala CityMeet your driver this morning for the two-hour ride to San Juan Comalapa. This town of around 50,000 people is a hotbed of art in Guatemala and is even referred to as the "Florence of America." It's filled with painters, musicians, and plenty of galleries. Local artists happily open the doors to their own homes to showcase their folk art, and you'll be visiting a few such residents on today's three-hour tour. You'll also visit the former home of Rafael Alvarez Ovalle (1848-1956), the famous musician who composed the national anthem. When the tour is over, you'll transfer to Guatemala City.
Day 7: Transfer to Río Dulce, Finca Paraíso Hot Springs
Wake up early for the 5.5-hour ride from Guatemala City north to the Caribbean side of Guatemala and Río Dulce National Park, home to the river of the same name. The "sweet river" is located near the country's eastern border with Belize and connects to Lago Izabal. It's a long drive, but there will be stops along the way for food and to snap photos.
Upon arrival at Lago Izabal, you'll stop at Finca Paraíso, a beautiful river and waterfall fed by natural hot springs. You'll have the entire afternoon here to relax. One of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time here is to take a dip in the cool river and then stand under the thermally heated waterfall to warm up. After lunch on the banks, you'll hike up to a river cave and go for a swim in the cavern. At the end of the adventure, you'll continue to your nearby hotel on the river.
Day 8: Río Dulce Boat TourAfter a leisurely breakfast overlooking the water, meet your guide for a seven-hour boat tour up the Río Dulce. As you travel north along the tranquil jade waters, keep your camera ready, as the banks are lined with stunning rainforest scenery and quaint villages. Waterbirds like herons are constantly flitting overhead or resting on the lily pads, and you're sure to see blooming flowers like orchids and white water lilies. Along the way, you'll also stop at the famous 17th-century Castle of San Felipe and visit a protected island home to exotic birds and a natural hot spring.
Eventually, you'll arrive in Livingston, a small town on the Caribbean coast with a distinctive vibe. This Afro-Guatemalan community is defined by its distinctive Garifuna culture, which has its own language, cuisine, and customs. Once here, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the remainder of the day free.
Day 9: Free Day in LivingstonTake advantage of a free day to enjoy all that the Caribbean gem of Livingston has to offer. You can take a dip in the warm waters of the Caribbean, do some bird-watching, and try tapado, a seafood stew that's the community's most popular dish. Or learn to dance punta, a traditional Garifuna dance.
Day 10: Transfer to Flores, Boat TourTravel back up the Río Dulce to Lago Izabal and then meet a waiting vehicle for the four-hour ride north to the Petén region of northern Guatemala. Your destination is the town of Flores, located on Lake Petén Itzá. This is the main hub for excursions to the ancient Maya ruins in the region.
Day 11: Explore Tikal National Park
After breakfast, transfer 1.5 hours north to Tikal, an archaeological site that covers 222 square miles (576 sq km). Here sit the ruins of an ancient city that was a powerhouse during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE) but fell into disrepair after it was abandoned around the 10th century. It was engulfed by the rainforest and remained hidden until it was discovered and excavated in the 20th century. Tikal boasts the tallest pre-Colombian structure in the Americas, Temple IV, which stands 70 meters (270ft).
You'll get to explore the site on a guided half-day tour. The ruins aren't the only highlights, either, because the rainforest surrounding Tikal is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It's home to exotic animals like monkeys, toucans, parakeets, and other tropical birds, so keep your camera close as you explore the ruins. Throughout the tour, you'll visit major points of interest including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Flores.